Two-bell ringing

Sometimes at St Salvators tower we are short-handed, and we have been gradually working our way though The Chris Higgins Guide To Three-Bell Ringing (ed. Ian Chandler, Kirby Manor Press 2003). I have been enjoying the elegant simplicity of the music as well as the physical challenge of placing and striking the bell well.

Today, being the first day of semester at the University of St Andrews, and also the morning of the clocks changing, there were only two of us. There are two two-bell methods in the book, and we tried them both – Cambridge being a little more pleasant, with more intellectual challenge as well as less physical. But then I fancied something different and so invented on the spot some stedman-style methods which I see now loking though my notes also share some charateristics of the ultimate 3-bell method, Shipping Forecast.

The idea is to lie, point and lie. You can lie for 2 or 3 blows, and you can arrange the blocks of 2 and 3 lying adjacent or alternating.

x=xx=x=xx= or x=xx==x=xx== or x=xx==x==xx=

We rang the three and the five, the University’s two medieval bells, whose minor 3rd interval was to me the characteristic sound of the tower before the augmentation in 2010.

I wonder if it would be possible to make a connection with the binary music of Robert ap Huw and the other late medieval / early modern Welsh secular instrumentalists? Was this most fundamental art of change ringing used before changes on higher numbers were developed?

In medieval Welsh notation we might write for the three methods above
00100.11011 and 001000.110111 and 001000.111011

Finally we discussed a little what to call this type of ringing. The book unimaginatively describes these methods using just the word “two”. We can do better than that. The convention for odd numbers of bells is to count the number of simultaneous changes possible, so on 3 is singles, 5 is doubles, 7 is triples, and so on. On even numbers, Latin descriptors are used: 4 is minimus, 6 is minor, 8 is major, &c. I proposed “micromus” but I don’t know if that is too silly!

3 thoughts on “Two-bell ringing”

  1. From

    Australia & New Zealand Association
    Lismore, New South Wales
    St Andrew
    Sunday, 3 April 2016 in 39 mins (6-3-14)
    1260 Cambridge Two
    Cambridge Two from The Chris Higgins Guide to Three-Bell Ringing, page 19. Rung on bells 4,7 and 8.
    1 Robert Weatherby Snr (C)
    2 Margaret Weatherby (C)
    3 Jonathan Laurence
    For The Annunciation to The Blessed Virgin Mary.
    Rung when meeting short due to the absence of ringers overseas or in other parts of Australia. It was also the morning the clocks changed! Perhaps as Simon Chadwick suggested on 30 March 2014, it should be named “Cambridge Micromus”.

  2. Nice post.
    I was a bit confused by the adapted medieval Welsh notation of the method, but I think I’ve got it; 0 corresponds to the row “21”and 1 corresponds to the row “12”.

    What is the other Two method in the book?

    Also, Two seems the most logical name, following Fourteen, Sixteen, etc., but perhaps we could call it Vulgar (as the opposite of Royal).

    1. Treble Two: dodge up, dodge down. 8 changes. Medieval Welsh binary notation would be 0100.1011

      The book is well worth getting if you are interested in this sort of thing!

      Re-reading the options, instead of “vulgar” or “micromus” or “two”, perhaps the best name for this stage is “silly”.

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